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Q and A with IABC Member Karyn Whelan

What is your communications background?
I have worked in communications since 2007. I’ve spent the last eight years working for the Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador (RNU). As the only communications professional on staff, I am responsible for the development and execution of RNU’s communications strategies. 

I coordinate member relations, media relations, issues management, event planning, as well as stakeholder and government relations. I also manage RNU's app, website and social channels. 

I started my career as the Communications Manager at the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information. I also worked at the Department of Health and Community Services and Verafin, a local technology company.

Where are you from?
I’m from St. John’s. I grew up in the west end and still live in the area today.  

What brought you to the communications field? What is your training/experience?
I was in my third year of university before I learned about public relations and decided it was the program for me. At the time, I was completing my arts degree at Memorial University. I was planning to apply for journalism school when I learned about the PR program at Mount Saint Vincent University. The field of communications appealed to me right away. It had a little of everything. I would still get to write, but it wouldn’t be my only focus. And that was appealing after a semester of writing papers for three English courses and two history courses. Once my arts degree was complete, I entered the PR program at the Mount. I graduated in 2007.  

What do you like about being a communications or marketing professional?

I like that every day is different. I like that I’m still learning. I like the strategy, but also the execution. I think this is a career where you can put your own touch on things. It’s rewarding to see the impact you make on an organization - it might be the successful execution of an awareness campaign or helping guide the strategic direction of your organization.  

Tell us how you've benefited from your IABC membership?

I’ve been a member of IABC since I was a student. There’s two big reasons why I value my membership - PD opportunities and networking. I work independently in my current role. Networking through IABC is a great way to connect with others in my field.

The communications world is always changing. Keeping on top of the latest trends is so important.  IABC provides a venue to do that. I try and attend PD events organized by our local chapter. The sessions are always insightful and on point. There’s also a lot of great resources on IABC International’s website. I try to take a moment to read a blog on the site or take in a webinar. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your work and put off those continued learning opportunities, but it’s important to keep learning and growing. 

Where do you see your career going/what plans do you have for your career?                                                                                                                                       I will continue to grow and develop my skills as a strategic communicator. Having worked independently for so long, I would really love to work alongside other communicators.  Whether I work in an agency or as a director leading a team of communication professionals, I’m open to the possibilities!  

Anything you would like to add?
I’m really looking forward to the IABC World Conference in Montreal this June.  If you plan to attend, I’d love to connect!   

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